Archive for March, 2009
28 Mar 2009

63 Injured During 2005 Running of the Bulls at San Sebastián de los Reyes

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The encierro (bull run) of San Sebastián de los Reyes, held annually at the end of August, is ranked the second most popular in Spain, right after the encierro of San Fermin held a month earlier at Pamplona.

A (typically unidentified) video of the 2005 disaster in which 63 people were injured is circulating currently as an Internet curiosity.

2:15 video

Hat tip to JonHenke.

28 Mar 2009

How Black Are My Green Jobs

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José Guardia quotes a King Juan Carlos University of Madrid study which contends that every government-subsidized “green job” costs more than two ordinary jobs.

For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid. …

The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – – which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.

28 Mar 2009

The Death of Maltravers

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The Austrian writer Alexander Maria Norbert Lernet-Holenia, 1897-1976, served as an officer in both World Wars

I think possibly the most comical death scene in all literature may be found in Lernet-Holenia’s The Resurrection of Maltravers, 1936:

Count Georg Maltravers, a ne’er-do-well representative of an Ur-Adel family “descended from no lesser a being than Merwech, the son of an ocean demon, who had overpowered the Queen of the Franks as she bathed in the sea,” takes refuge with his estranged brother upon release from prison after serving a twenty-two month sentence for cheating at cards.

Shunned by his family as the result of his disgrace (and because of his manifest contempt for his brother’s bourgeois wife), Maltravers disconsolately roams the countryside desultorily bird shooting. He is finally injured in a shooting accident, and collapses from loss of blood having been injured in the hand by a burst barrel.

A peasant lifted him up, placed him on his wagon, and took him home, like the peasant in the tale of Sir Lancelot of the Lake.

Maltravers soon came to, and his wound was tended by a physician. But, weakened by the loss of blood, the count stayed in bed for two days. The fever that had set in went down soon. Alexander Maltravers visited him daily. But on the third day, when Georg Maltravers wanted to get up, he could not quite resolve to do so. Instead, he remained lying, as he did on the fourth day; and on the fifth day his fever returned, although the wound was healing quickly.

The physician had told him to get up, but he stayed in bed, lying on his back with his eyes shut, eating cinchona; and if the windows were open during the afternoon, he would listen to the slightest swishing of the fountain, which sounded as if someone were weeping in the garden. He felt very tired. He was visited not only by Alexander Maltravers, but also by the latter’s two daughters, the old maids, and they interfered with his listening to the fountain. Toward the end of the month, his fever went up, his ribs hurt, he was given injections twice, and one day, Cecile Maltravers appeared at his bed.

Since his indifference to his surroundings had kept increasing without his realizing it, it took him several minutes to fully grasp that “Mistress Meyer” was here. But then he instantly told himself that if she had come, he must be very ill. For otherwise, he assumed, she would not have come.

He sat up from his reclining position, refused to listen to her apparently sympathetic words, and vehemently commanded that his brother should come. Alexander Maltravers entered the room, and Georg Maltravers, suddenly almost shouting, demanded to know what was wrong with him.

Nothing, nothing, said Alexander Maltravers, he iust running a slight temperature. But Georg Maltravers yelled that it was not true, he was very ill, but they were keeping the truth from him, and they were doing nothing, so that he would die and they would be rid of him. The doctor was to come immediately!

However, the doctor also simply calmed him down, gave him another injection, and said it was nothing serious, so that Georg Maltravers demanded that they summon another physician immediately from Bratislava. But after the second physician arrived and examined him, he too merely said reassuring and evasive things, whereupon Maltravers told himself that he was doomed.

All night long, he wrestled with his fear of death. The wound in his hand had cleared up; that could not be the cause of his malady. He must have developed pneumonia from lying in bed for such a long time, or else it was old age, or just simply death coming, death!

He did not recall that he had ever feared death, but now that he was about to die, his fear was immeasurable. This fear, which he had always scorned and which had never dared to approach him, was now getting back at him. If it had been unable to keep his life easy and risk-free, it now at least made his death hard. He suffered the complete collapse of a hero—however dubious and disreputable, but still a hero. Had he not been so courageous earlier, he could not have been so cowardly now that his nerves were failing him. For it is the scope of one’s courage that is important, and not the courage per se. However, at the crucial moment, the only truly decisive one, he was abandoned by everything: boldness, refinement, self-confidence, even self-esteem. All that remained was panic at the thought of death. He wracked his brain, trying to come up with ways of fleeing death. Suddenly, he reached a decision asked for pen and paper, and wrote a confused letter to the Duke de Joyeuse in Hirschberg. He asked the duke to come to him, to apply the miraculous treatment of the royal house of France—and heal him by laying on his hands.

The duke came immediately, but explained that the only person who could cure him by laying on his hands
was not he but the king himself, and only when he was “in a state of grace,” that is, right after the coronation and he could only treat scrofula, the king’s evil, from which Maltravers was certainly not suffering. Besides he went on, no king of France had been crowned for a long time now, and the pretender did not possess any supernatural faculties worth mentioning, so that the whole thing was simply out of the question. Maltravers could thank the Republic and the Bonapartes for that. However, if Maltravers wished, then he, Joyeuse, would remain and pray for the future salvation of Maltravers’s soul. For like all truly religious people, he set no store, or not very much, by mere miracles.

Maltravers was desperate, but after lying motionless for almost fifteen minutes without answering, he sat up and scrawled a telegram to Monsieur de la Baume, a Hospitaller who lived in Prague. He asked him to come immediately.

The full name of this Knight of Malta was: Anne de la Baume le Boutillier d’Outremer. He had been christened Anne, albeit a female name, for reasons of tradition. The family had been given the epithet Le Boutillier d’Outremer during the crusades; it meant: “bottler from overseas,” for certain members of this family had been granted the right to hang a canteen of water or wine from the saddle of the Grand Master of the Templars before they rode into the desert.

Le Boutillier arrived and entered the dying man’s room he found not only Georg and Alexander Maltravers, Cecile, and the daughters, but also the Duke de Joyeuse together with his three natural sons: Grand Bastard de Joyeuse, Count Eudes de Dampiere and the Vidame Ghislain de Montresor, as well Montresor’s wife, Blanche, a tall, wonderful woman with dark blonde hair and bluish eyebrows. The priest also present. It was a stately assembly, which had decided, at the duke’s behest, to accompany Georg Maltravers’s death with prayers. Not even Cecile Maltravers dared to stay away, although she did not believe in God.

“La Baume,” the duke cried to the Hospitaller, “what do you say to this?”

“Your Royal Highness,” replied La Baume, “I don’t even know what’s wrong!”

“Come here,” ordered Georg Maltravers. “Come here immediately, Anna!” (He used the German form of the name.) And when the Hospitaller reached the bed, Maltravers told him to lay his hands on him and expel the illness.

“My goodness,” La Baume exclaimed, “I didn’t even know you were ill! What’s the problem? And what should I lay on? My hands? Why?”

“The duke,” Maltravers moaned, “did not want to.”

“No,” cried Joyeuse, “heaven forfend! Ne plaise a Dieul

“Perhaps he could not,” murmured Maltravers. “But you,” he said, staring at La Baume, “you can do it.”

“I?”

“Yes, you, Anna!”

“Please do not call me Anna,” said the Hospitaller, “otherwise I won’t lay anything on you! My name is Anne! And why do you want something laid on you?”

“You people were always Knights of Malta,” Maltravers moaned, “and before that you were Templars. The Templars had secrets; you know their secrets. You people can heal the sick. Lay your hands on me!”

“The Templars,” said Joyeuse, “were heretics and sodomites. If they liked a nanny-goat, they would send her roses, and their donkeys had diamond bracelets. Those were their only secrets, and that was why good King Philip disbanded their order and had their Grand Master, Monsieur de Molay, burned at the stake. Isn’t that so?” he asked the priest, while Le Boutillier made a face, glancing bitterly at the duke.

However, the priest, who had long forgotten who the Templars were, merely said unctuously: Whoever is destined to die must simply submit to God’s will, and Maltravers should content himself with the consolations of the holy faith.

But Maltravers cursed and shouted that these consolations were no consolation if he could not go on living. Ever since the days of Fénélon, he cried, religion had been a matter of the mind and morality, but not a practical issue. He did not wish to die, and they would therefore have to resort to magic again, for he was convinced, he said, that his life was not over, his mind was teeming with plans, it was merely his wretched treatment at the hands of his family that was putting him into the grave, they simply wanted to get rid of him, but it would not work, the Hospitaller should lay his hands on him immediately. And the count’s eyes darted from one person to another, imploring help, until they finally rested on Mme. de Montresor, as if it were impossible to die in the presence of such great beauty. It occurred to him that the French royal family imagined that it descended from Troy, from Anchises and Aphrodite. Perhaps Mme. de Montresor was a reincarnation of the goddess and was delighting in his mortality. . . .

“Listen,” Boutillier said at last, “just what is it you want me to do? Lay my hands on you? Are you serious?
You really think it will help?

“Of course!” Maltravers begged. “Do it! For the love of God, Le Boutillier!”

Le Boutillier reflected for several moments, then agreed to do it. He asked the others to step outside. “He’s crazy,” he whispered to them, “but if he’s really dying, why not do him the favor?”

Joyeuse felt one shouldn’t fool around with such matters even in a case of death; the Templars had been utterly dubious sorts, as one could tell by, say, La Baume’s first name. But then Joyeuse finally left the room with the others.

When the Hospitaller was alone with the patient, he sat down on the edge of his bed, and Maltravers grabbed Le Boutillier’s hands, laying them on his own forehead and eyes. At that instant, Le Boutillier realized that Maltravers was dying. His reclining body jolted, and he sat up halfway. Le Boutillier hastily withdrew his hands from the patient’s eyes, reached for a glass of port on the night table, and was about to hand it to him. But as he bent over, Maltravers sat further up, their heads collided, the port was spilled on the bed cover, Maltravers fell back and was dead.

In reality, our hero is not actually dead at all. He awakens in his coffin, dressed in his old cavalry uniform, breaks out of the family crypt, and sets off for new adventures, determined to make a major change in his mode of living.

27 Mar 2009

DEBKAFile: Iran Waiting to Build 10-12 Nukes, Already Has Ballistic Missile Delivery Capability

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DEBKAFile‘s latest rumor ought to be alarming to people residing in Manhattan.

Israel’s AMAN military intelligence director, Maj. Amos Yadlin updated the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee on the state of Iran’s nuclear progress Wednesday, March 25. He reported that although Iran is only months away from a capacity to make a nuclear bomb and has attained a warhead capability, Tehran has decided not to cross the threshold so as to avoid provoking Western retaliation.

DEBKAfile‘s military sources report this is not Tehran’s true rationale. The Iranians are held back by two more compelling motives:

1. They will not be satisfied with a single nuclear bomb, but would rather build up an arsenal of 10 to 12 bombs and warheads for which they are short of enough enriched uranium at the moment.

2. Tehran is no longer deterred by fear of an American or European attack, Yadlin explained in his briefing Wednesday. Its leaders are standing by to see what rewards are on offer from US president Barack Obama for improving Washington-Tehran and how they may profit in strategic, diplomatic and economic terms. If the American incentives fall short, Tehran can push ahead with its nuclear weapon. …

Until now, both Western and Israeli experts maintained Iran has not yet acquired the technology for mounting nuclear warheads on missiles. Yadlin now reveals Tehran is already there, a conclusion reached after the Iranians sent their first earth satellite, Omid, into space on Jan. 3. The launch meant that Iran can deliver nuclear warheads by ballistic missile to any point on earth.

DEBKAFile is a mouthpiece for Israeli Intelliegence. Not all of its reports are accurate. Let’s hope this is one of those which is not.

27 Mar 2009

How the Treasury Decides

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South Park explains the federal decision making process used by both the Bush and Obama Administrations for dealing with the current economic downturn.

1:03 video

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Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

27 Mar 2009

Exposing Journolist

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24-year-old Liberal blogger Ezra Klein founded the Journolist email listserver in February 2007 to provide a forum for leftwing bloggers, journalists, academics, and policy professional to coordinate strategy and compare notes.

About a week and a half ago (March 17th), Michael Calderone began shining an investigative light on Jlist.

“It’s sort of a chance to float ideas and kind of toss them around, back and forth, and determine if they have any value,” said New Republic associate editor Eve Fairbanks, “and get people’s input on them before you put them on a blog.”

Indeed, the advantage of JList, members say, is that it provides a unique forum for getting in touch with historians and policy people who provide journalists with a knowledge base for articles and blog posts. …

Said another JLister: “I don’t know any other place where working journalists, policy wonks and academics who write about current politics and political history routinely communicate with one another.”

But, as Calderone reports, Jlist’s key feature has been its limited access and secrecy.

Time’s Joe Klein, who acknowledged being on JList and several other listservs, said in an e-mail that “they’re valuable in the way that candid conversations with colleagues and experts always are.” Defending the off-the-record rule, Klein said that “candor is essential and can only be guaranteed by keeping these conversations private.”

Mark Hemingway, at National Review, raised some ethical concerns.

[O]ne of the most valuable currencies in Washington is access to the press. The article notes that many stories have started on or been shaped by JournoList. If you’re a liberal blogger or activist, you can now push your story on the highest echelons of journalism with a quick email. If you’re a mainstream journalist, is it really ethical that you don’t give the opposing view equal access?

Finally, ripping away the veil completely, Mickey Kaus broke all the rules and served up a real, though bowdlerized, sample exchange of foul-mouthed, twittering lefties “discussing” the New Republic and its editor Martin Peretz, whose lack of enthusiasm for the Palestinian cause has left him vulnerable to accusations of racism and dark hints about his sex life.

27 Mar 2009

Teaching America to Hate

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A security guard at the Fairfield home of AIG Financial Products executive Douglas Poling reasoning with demonstrators, who are being egged on by the press

Elections have consequences. One conspicuous consequence of the last election is angry mobs at the front doors of suburban Connecticut homes. As if they were living in some Third World country, American executives in Fairfield County now need to protect their families with bodyguards.

AIG employees and their families became victims of mass hatred and were placed in real physical danger by deliberate policy crafted at the highest levels of the Government of the United States.

The Obama Administration and the corrupt democrat congress have cynically chosen to advance their socialist agenda by the left’s traditional tactic of divisive agitation.

Paul Kengor, at American Thinker, puts the AIG show trial into perspective.

“We must teach our children to hate,” Vladimir Lenin instructed his education commissars. The Bolshevik godfather declared that hatred was not only “the basis of communism” but “the basis of every socialist and Communist movement.”

Class envy has been a defining staple of the left for centuries, from the frenzied mobs leaping around the French guillotines to the Soviets to, well, the new masses circling AIG executives today. …

Historically, this behavior is both foreign and antithetical to the American experience. Unfortunately, modern Americans don’t understand their founding and the nation’s core principles — our educational system doesn’t teach those things. Thus, they are now voting, and behaving, in kind. And we are now witnessing our own homegrown socialist movement in action, inspired by hate.

Some Americans, whipped into poisonous hatred by their elected representatives, have literally called for death for AIG executives, and one U.S. senator openly requested that these businesspeople commit suicide.

Liberals in Congress, from Senator Chuck Schumer to Senator Chris Dodd, plus a wild gaggle of unleashed central planners in the House, have conducted a show trial of AIG executives, with the larger purpose of placing American free enterprise in the dock. …

As members of Congress target the likes of AIG chief executive Edward Liddy, mobs target the homes of AIG employees in Connecticut. …

AIG workers are being demonized, noted the Times; they are hiring bodyguards. And it isn’t only AIG. Merrill Lynch is dealing with similar assaults.

And that’s just the start. It’s only a matter of public exposure until another group of private-sector “reptiles” — Lenin’s word — is identified for the proletariat. Congress and the White House will be happy to call out the next group of kulaks. …

[T]he mob wants someone’s head on a platter — now. Time to eat the rich. Perhaps our dear leader, President Obama, can go to Connecticut to play the role of healer, addressing the faithful, calming their fears, a political sermon on the mount. Blessed would be the peacemaker.

But not yet — for now, this hate is just too excellent, too perfect for advancing the agenda of the leftist ideologues and envy-mongers running the republic.

Who’s to blame? The American people are to blame. I’m tired of the populist nonsense from talk-radio on how Americans “deserve better than this.” They do? Why? They voted for this. Obama is being Obama. Pelosi is being Pelosi. Schumer is being Schumer. The American people cast the ballots.

You reap what you sow. Enjoy the hate, America. You elected it.

Read the whole thing.

27 Mar 2009

What to do with Guantanamo Detainees

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The Obama Administration has an answer: release them in the United States and put them on welfare. Before long, presumably, ACORN will be taking them to the polls to vote democrat.


Thomas Joscelyn
quotes a news agency report and comments.

26 Mar 2009

Rahm Emanuel Already Had His Bonus

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Barack Obama recently told the press that he thought about it for some time before deciding to go ahead and unleash attacks on AIG employees receiving contractually-specified compensation for job performance or as retention incentives. Doubtless, the president talked over whether it would be a good idea to use the White House as a platform to whip up public emotion into outraged anger directed at ordinary private citizens with his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Rahm Emanuel, as the Chicago Tribune reports, had at the time already long since collected his own bonus for passive collaboration on the board of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation “Freddie Mac” in the policies directly responsible for the mortgage default crisis, unlike Jake DeSantis, for example, who would soon be nationally targeted despite having no actual real connection.

Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.

One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel—now chief of staff to President Barack Obama—who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort. …

The Freddie Mac money was a small piece of the $16 million he made in a three-year interlude as an investment banker…

He was named to the Freddie Mac board in February 2000 by Clinton, whom Emanuel had served as White House political director…

The board met no more than six times a year. Unlike most fellow directors, Emanuel was not assigned to any of the board’s working committees, according to company proxy statements. Immediately upon joining the board, Emanuel and other new directors qualified for $380,000 in stock and options plus a $20,000 annual fee, records indicate.

ACORN probably won’t be busing any demonstrators over to Representative Rosa DeLauro’s house (where Emanual lives in the basement) to threaten him though, will they?

26 Mar 2009

Comments

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NYM is a polite blog, and foul language is not acceptable in comments posted here.

Jake DeSantis’s letter of resignation provoked an extraordinary outpouring of opinion on both sides, and I actually took the trouble to **** out the worst examples and keep the comments otherwise intact. My normal policy is simply to delete any comments that feature foul language, and in future I’m returning to that policy.

Comments are welcome and appreciated, but readers ought to realize that they are writing formally and for a record potentially read by large numbers of people of mixed age and gender.

26 Mar 2009

Multiculturalism at Thermopylae

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Detain of Gigantomachy from the Great Altar at Pergamon, 2nd Century BC, Pergamon Museum, Berlin

The Pergamon Altar Piece’s Gigantomachy, a battle between the Olympian gods and the powerful, but savage, giants, celebrated the military triumph of the Greek city in Asia Minor over the barbarians by alluding to the mythical triumph of the divine forces of Reason and Order over the earth-bound powers of Cthonic Nature.

Roger Sandall marvels as contemporary political correctness brings an exhibition championing Greece’s barbarian enemy into the Pergamon Museum itself.

For too long had Hellenism been uncritically exalted in the West. Now it was time for the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome to stand aside so that we could gaze upon the je ne sais quoi that was Mesopotamia. But what exactly was Babylon? Imperial majesty? Architectural folly? A voluptuary paradise? Oriental despotism incarnate? To try to answer these questions the combined museological might of the British Museum, the Musée du Louvre, and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin had assembled a display of things Babylonian under the title Babylon: Myth and Reality….

That distinguished and venerable classicist Peter Green apologised for having been too keen for freedom in his 1970 book Xerxes at Salamis. Revising it in 1996 under the new title The Greco-Persian Wars, he regretted embracing so enthusiastically “the fundamental Herodotean concept of freedom-under-law (eleutheria, isonomia) making its great and impassioned stand against Oriental Despotism.” What he called “the insistent lessons of multiculturalism” had forced all classical scholars “to take a long hard look at Greek ‘anti-barbarian’ propaganda, beginning with Aeschylus’s Persians and the whole thrust of Herodotus’s Histories.”

The Oxford University Press author of the 2003 The Greek Wars, George Cawkwell, told us in a short preface that he was proud to be part of a scholarly movement that aims “to rid ourselves of a Hellenocentric view of the Persian world.” Much of the first three pages of his introduction then proceeded to ridicule and discredit Herodotus, who showed “an astounding misapprehension” concerning the Persians, whose stories were sometimes delightful but were certainly absurd, and who, he wrote, “had no real understanding of the Persian Empire.”

But if Herodotus didn’t get it right, who exactly did? Obviously, some nameless Persian equivalent to Herodotus might have had “a real understanding of the Persian Empire,” but who was he and where is his narrative? What book by which contemporary Persian historian provides an alternative account of Achaemenid manners and customs, institutions and political thought, imperial policy and administration and ideals?

For much of the past 30 years admirers of classical Greece have been on the defensive, while easternizing admirers of Mesopotamia have been on the attack.

The courts of Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, not to mention Xerxes, King of Kings, employed armies of chroniclers recording royal achievements and military victories. Is it conceivable that whole decades of the recent research invoked by Peter Green and Tom Holland (author of the 2005 book Persian Fire) reveal no Persian literary endeavors to compare with the achievements of the Greeks?

Alas, that seems to be the case. Even the Oxford don so jeeringly hostile to Herodotus admits that though the evidence of past Persian glories “is ample and various, one thing is lacking. Apart from the Behistun Inscription which gives an account of the opening of the reign of Darius I, there are no literary accounts of Achaemenid history other than those written by Greeks.” Moreover, he admits, such literacy as existed in the Persian Empire was largely Greek; and such writing as took place was mainly done by Greeks.

25 Mar 2009

Jake DeSantis Shrugged

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The New York Times published yesterday’s resignation letter from Jake DeSantis, executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.

Dear Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down. …

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers. …

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut. …

I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients. …

This choice is right for me. I wish others at A.I.G.-F.P. luck finding peace with their difficult decision, and only hope their judgment is not clouded by fear. …

Sincerely,

Jake DeSantis

25 Mar 2009

Obama and the Democrat Congress Still Fueling Explosion in Guns Sales

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Local papers like the Waynesville (Missouri) Daily Guide cover matters of interest often overlooked by the New York Times and Washington Post and report them very differently.

Last November’s election and the radical policies of the Obama administration have resulted in widespread ongoing gun and ammunition stockpiling and hoarding prompted by direct fears of new regulations and even federal gun confiscation.

The week Barack Obama was elected president, the amount of criminal background checks related to the purchase of firearms jumped 49 percent over the previous year, FBI statistics show.

It’s a trend that hasn’t ceased to stop, as background checks for firearm purchases have continued to increase in the months following the November election, when compared to the same time a year ago.

February alone witnessed a 23.3 percent jump, and January and December weren’t too far ahead, with 29 and 24 percent increases, respectively.

Fears of possible anti-gun legislation that’s being considered by the Obama administration might be contributing to the rise in sales, as well as the teeter-tottering economy.

The angst seems to be somewhat legitimate, although at this time it’s unclear whether a push to reinstate the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, commonly referred to as the “assault weapons ban” will be successful.

“Well, as President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons,” Attorney General Eric Holder said during a press conference last month that focused on growing violence in Mexico.

According to the State Department, drug cartels are using “automatic weapons and grenades” in confrontations against Mexican army and police units. The idea is by putting the ban back in place, the flow of guns into Mexico would be reduced.

Enacted in 1994 under then-president Bill Clinton, the assault weapons ban prohibited 19 specific firearms in addition to the possession, manufacturing and importation of the semiautomatic assault weapons and ammunition clips with more than 10 rounds for civilian use.

Though a bill to reinstate the act hasn’t been introduced in Congress yet, and Holder hasn’t given a timeline for when that might happen, numerous other pieces of legislation have been. Six U.S. House of Representative bills are currently being considered, the most troubling of which, gun-rights advocates say, is H.R. 45, known as the Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009.

If the legislation is successful, it would require a license for handguns and semiautomatic firearms, including those people already own. License applicants would have to under go a background check and take a written firearms examination, meant to test the applicant’s knowledge of safe storage and handling of guns, as well as the risks associated with the use of firearms in a home, legal responsibilities of owners of such weapons and “any other subject, as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate.”

Furthermore, “the bill would make it unlawful in nearly all cases to keep any loaded firearm for self-defense. A variety of ‘crimes by omission’… would be created. Criminal penalties of up to ten years and almost unlimited regulatory and inspection authority would be established,” according to Gun Owners of America, a non-profit lobbying organization led by former senator Bill Richardson.

The bill would also make it unlawful to sell or transfer a “qualifying firearm” to any person who is not licensed.
Other legislation includes H.R. 17 which would reaffirm the right to use firearms for self-defense and the defense of a person’s home and family; H.R. 1074 would permit the interstate sale of firearms as long as the laws of the states are complied with and adhere to federal law.

Bill Morris, Military Pro owner, said sales at his shop have increased as rumors about possible legislation circulate.

“A lot of customers are afraid that the guns they enjoy shooting so much for sports are going to be restricted,” Morris said. “A lot of the firearms people use for hunting and have used for a long time are being threatened.”

25 Mar 2009

Obama Bores at Last Night’s Press Conference

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Andrew Malcolm pans the Annointed One’s most recent performance in the LA Times.

Tuesday morning The Ticket examined the White House’s current political strategy and asked the question who would show up at Barack Obama’s second nationally-televised news conference that evening: the president or the senator?

The answer: Neither.

Professor Barack Obama showed up. …

And if you remember one of those required college lecture courses in the large auditorium at 8:10 a.m. listening to a droning don, and how it felt, slumped in the cushy seats having skipped breakfast for an extra 13 minutes of ZZZZ.

[T]his news conference seemed anticlimatic. At times the president appeared to be mailing in his delivery.

He made no notable news, and did so quite smoothly. Unless sticking by his guns over cutting charitable deductions is news.

And the former constitutional law professor did go on in his answers, perhaps not by accident. Holding the floor is another means of control for any president. Like males hold the TV remotes.

The result: only 13 questions in 57 minutes.

And as The Ticket noted during its live-blogging, not one single question on either war, including the one the commander-in-chief recently ordered 17,000 more Americans to march into. …

Gone from the presidential podium were the ubiquitous, much-noted teleprompters that gave rise to embarrassing suggestions that Obama needs to be fed his words to avoid Special Olympics or Nancy Reagan gaffes. In the twin teleprompters’ place? A larger teleprompter in the back of the room where no one watching on TV could see it.

The result for anyone who stayed for the entire presentation was another lengthy, somber less-than-animated sales pitch for the need to spend trillions to jump-start the economy, which he sees promising signs of already at least with one Pennsylvania company (though still not yet Caterpillar), and how we’re going to somehow move from an era of spending and greed to an era of savings by spending so much we’re gonna double or maybe triple the national debt by the time a two-term Obama would be two years into improving his retirement bowling at Sun City.

Every new president gets a couple of these gimme news conferences, even if this one did bump something as sacred as “American Idol.” But another one of these newsless news conferences, and the broadcast networks may well leave it to cable and C-SPAN in order to stimulate their own economies.

The BBC summarized other reactions, in which, most notably, will be found the common conclusion that Obama’s free pass from the press is running out of time.

Jonah Goldberg, blogging at the National Review Online, gave the president a B-grade for Monday night’s routine.

“He didn’t hurt himself, but I don’t see how he helped himself. He still seems presidential, even though he was often longwinded.

“He had some good answers and some bad, politically speaking. But it was unmemorable in the end and I’m not sure it was worth the political capital of suckingup another hour of primetime.”

That was a view echoed by former White House press secretary Mike McCurry, debating the night’s events at Politico.com.

“I think we may have seen the last ‘freebie’ tonight,” McCurry wrote. “The major networks will not give up a narrow prime-time, revenue-generating hour for an occasion whence the president rehearses a prepared (even important) message.”

Even the left-leaning Huffington Post conceded that Mr Obama was now toning things down at a time of great national concern.

“Even when the topic ventured into the realm of international relations, the president brought the discussion right back to the home front,” Sam Stein wrote.

“In what served as a crescendo to the whole event, he addressed a question on the status of Israeli-Palestinian relations by, in essence, asking the public for a bit of patience.”

Back at Politico, Jeff Emmanuel from RedState.com said both president and press left him wanting more.

“Sooner or later the press will begin asking Mr Obama why he seems almost allergic to specifics in anything he says, be it answer, speech, or policy proposal.

“This was not that night.”

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